There was a time when communication was not so simple. Recent generations have become accustomed to instant real time information, while unaware of a more simplistic era. For many years the Irish public relied upon the local “Telefon” Box as their only means of communication with the outside world.
The first “Telefon” box was installed as far back as 1925 and to this day it can be found on Dawson Street, Dublin. In 1932 the boxes were fitted throughout Dublin in response to the Catholic Eucharistic Congress which helped celebrate the 1,500th year of St. Patrick’s arrival to Ireland. The increased popularity from this event led to their installation throughout the length and breadth of the island. The boxes were modernised in later years but it is the old iconic boxes with the unmistakable “Telefon” branding that has a place in the hearts and minds of generations of Irish people.
The “Telefon” boxes not only had a practical purpose but they also came to have a major social significance with the Irish population. Once as important a structure to many as the bank and even the church, each “Telefon” box had a story to tell. Throughout the villages of Ireland they brought news of births and deaths and played a central role in the lives of those both lovesick and homesick. Speaking to a child who had emigrated to America would have been a rare treat for the parents that they had left behind. The Irish telephone box has become etched into the memories of older generations amusing their grandchildren with tales of dates at the local telephone or romance conducted through whispered confidences in that semi-private box in the middle of the village.
There have also been many humorous stories. In those days each call was put through the operator. There was the Cavan man who phoned his friend looking for a loan of money. Only to be told that “It’s a bad auld line, I can’t hear you”. When this was repeated a number of times the operator cut in with “I can hear him perfectly!” The answer was “You give him the loan so!” Or the two Donegal women who were stuck in a box and couldn’t get out!
In recent years with deep modernisation taking place all over Ireland it was decided that the old “Telefon” boxes would be removed from the landscape. With it went an important piece of our Irish history and culture. Today there are only a handful of original boxes remaining dotted throughout the countryside.
Burke Joinery, a family business, located in Dublin, have found a way to cherish and protect the heritage of this piece of Irish history. Burke Joinery hand make the old style “Telefon” box and have found a way to incorporate the past with the present. Each handmade box is acoustically tested with a noise reduction of up to 22dB. The boxes are now being sold to corporate clients with busy open plan office areas, hotels, restaurants, and bars. The Irish telephone box is being used as it was intended, but now to make or receive a call on a cell phone or so sit down and catch up on emails in a quiet proof environment.
The company also hand make a unique range for the home and garden. Now households throughout the United States can own their own individual piece of authentic Irish culture. From the traditional “Telefon” logos and the authentic joinery mouldings, each detail has been carefully considered and applied throughout the range.
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